Dr. Poli and Dr. Stoneman receive Thomas Jefferson Medal for Dragon Research!

Dr. DorothyBelle Poli, professor of biology, and Dr. Lisa G. Stoneman, associate professor of education and department chair, received the Thomas Jefferson Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Natural Science Education on March 18th, 2021, honoring their service to education.

“Receiving an award from the Commonwealth is an honor that is a highlight of my career,” Poli said. “My sole purpose as an educator is to increase science literacy, and the Dragon Research Collaborative has provided me with a unique opportunity to reach many people around Virginia and from other places.”

“As an English education academic, I am fortunate that my love for story and my interest in how and why people see the world as they do, is recognized as an important part of natural history,” Stoneman said. “The family of dragons that we’ve grown over the past eight years has worked, played and traveled together, diving more deeply — and diversely — into the fossil-folklore hypothesis with each semester.”


2019 Dragon Festivals are Coming Soon!

The Roanoke College Dragon Festival will be September 20, 2019, as part of the Friday on the Quad festivities. We are always looking to have the community join us at this free event. It happens on the Back Quad around 4:30pm and usually lasts until 7pm. If you are interested in joining the day’s events as a vendor or participant in some way, please contact our organizers DB Poli (poli@roanoke.edu) or Lisa Stoneman (stoneman@roanoke.edu).


Festivities at the large Virginia Museum of Natural History Dragon Festival (in Martinsville VA) will be October 19, 2019 from 9am – 6pm. There is a $10 fee to come in, but we will have food trucks, an all day beer garden, Author’s Row (with some famous folks!!), fire performers, demonstrators, Furries, games, vendors, and a LOT MORE – oh an of course, exhibits about dragons. Save the date and join us!!  Interested in becoming a vendor?  Email DB Poli (poli@roanoke.edu) today!

Thank You to the Cotton Gin

On an outing to find the latest fabrics to bring into our Dragon Festival and On the Origins of Dragons exhibit we stumbled across a wonderful fabric store called The Cotton Gin in Roanoke VA.


cotton gin exterior.jpg         cotton gin group.jpg

Upon learning about our group and what we do, the kind owner gave us several yards of fabric for free. We can’t say thank you enough.  Your kindness makes the world a better place!

Dragon Festival 2018: Virginia Museum of Natural History

What happens when science meets folklore?

A dragon explosion!


Meet Terra! She is the beautiful creation of artist,  J. Leigh, of The Color of Mud studio.


Dr. Poli, Dr. Stoneman, and Terra are happy that Dragon Festival was so well attended!


Dr. Martha Kuchar speaking on Slavic Dragons.


Dr. Tina Hanlon on Dragons in Children’s Literature and Beyond.


Author, Sharyn McCrumb, connecting us to the folkloric content of her ballad novels.


Beautiful Chinese dragons! Thank you, Dr. Stella Xu.


Chasing the Dragon in one of its forms.


From Victorian sideshow fodder to fossil-folklore hypothesis.


J. Leigh Studio wares.


Beautiful dragons! Miss Kitty’s Society for Wayward Cosmonauts performing.


Something here is a bit odd! Dragon sculptures by J. Leigh.


Dragons breathe fire!


The Vikings were held off in the attempt on Terra’s life!

Dragon Fest is Here!


Join us this Friday, September 21, 4:30-6:30 pm, for 

Roanoke College DRAGON FEST!

This family friendly event features:

Live music by Erin and the Wildfire

The Vikings of the Valley

The Virginia Museum of Natural History

The Color of Mud Studio

Black Snake Meadery


Lawn Games

Live reptiles

Face Painting

Caricature Artist

Magic Wands

Chinese Culture Exhibit


Selfie Station

Dragon Petting Zoo

and More!

Located on the Back Quad, accessible from High Street; use the parking lot near Olin Hall or the lot on Thompson Memorial Drive, behind Fintel Library.


Friends of the DRC: Jasmin Reed

Email her directly at reevejasmin@gmail.com

 Jasmin is a painter, miniature maker, Medieval reenactor and a self-proclaimed geeky nerd girl…just what we love about her!  She started making 1/12th scale doll houses items 12 years ago after receiving a copy of Angie Scarr’s book “How to Make Miniature Stalls.” She loves the cuteness and the excitement of making miniature items so her pieces keep getting smaller.  Such talent! Here are some of our favorite dragon pieces:



She now focuses on Dungeons and Dragons alongside her passion for doll house things. To see the latest check out her Etsy page at www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MedievalMiniatures or follow her on Twitter @Raven_elf.

Friends of the DRC

Our newest blog feature is Friends of the DRC.

This section will feature new friends who are interested in dragons. Maybe we will showcase an artist, a musician, a scientist…you will have to check in to see. Today we are featuring :

Rachel Melrose

She can be emailed directly at remelrose1@gmail.com

I’m 4 1/2. The number in front of that is (5), but I ignore it whenever I can! I trained as a secondary teacher, in Religious Education. I taught that for 15 years, picking up other subjects as I went along. I moved into Adult Education and FE, teaching ICT and Genealogy, then Key Skills and Functional Skills.

I really wanted to be an Astrophysicist, but my Maths and Physics reached a plateau after “O” level. A colleague in FE college turned the Maths lightbulbs back on, so I gained my Level 5 Maths teaching certificate. I also did a Foundation degree in Art, which I combined with the Maths in a project with Cambridge University Maths Department, looking at fractals in Maths and in nature, and the drawing and modelling of 3-D fractals.

I’m also a Reader (Lay Minister) in the Church of England, and am just about to set up an outreach group in the estate in which I live, using my art and craft hobbies as a way into getting to know the people of the estate, to find out how the church can serve them better. The estate is a bit isolated at one end of the group of three villages. We have a community hall, but no other facilities. The shops are all down in Stanstead Abbotts.

One of the types of artwork I hope to use with this venture is Celtic calligraphy and knotwork. I don’t have a website. Being disabled and not able to work, I can’t afford a website and its upkeep. Here are some examples of my work:


If dragons were never real, they should have been! Given the amazing fossil record, surely something in there must have been close, although fire breathing and flying might be a little stretch. I’ve always loved dragons and, when a friend bought me Anne McCaffrey’s “Dragondrums” for a birthday, I was hooked on the series. Her use of science to make the dragons of Pern plausible and to have a reason for being there, being developed from an indigenous life-form, but made Bigger, gave the series veritas.

This being said, my e-book collection is filled with many books and series about dragons of all shapes, forms and colours! There are dragons who are allergic to silver, and those who have stones in their chest which they can choose to share with a rider. There are innately good dragons and really bad ones. Some are small enough to ride on their human’s shoulder, others are big enough to carry a carriage full of people. Some can go invisible. Some can speak, others talk telepathically. Often dragons are very wise or extremely cunning and tricky.

I really wish there were dragons, but the way humans have treated this world, there would not be enough room for the larger ones, especially if they needed large ranges or specialist habitat. Perhaps a small one would be nice, a friendly one, who could sit on my shoulder and share his or her wisdom, or cheer me up with funny antics.

If there were larger, intelligent dragons, maybe they could force the evil and stupid people of this world to change their habits,  clean up the world and care for the plants and animals, restoring ruined habitats.

If only…

AWP Conference

Hi Dragons,

If you, or anyone you know, is going to be at the AWP conference (March 8-11) be sure to stop by our table! We’ll be sharing a spot with the Roanoke Review, the literary journal also produced by Roanoke College. We’ll have books for sale, and you’ll have the opportunity to win some fun dragon-related prizes.

Hope to see you then!

New Publication

Co-creators of the DRC, Dr. Poli and Dr. Stoneman, have published a new paper, “Drawing New Boundaries:Finding the Origins of Dragons in Carboniferous Plant Fossils”. You can find the full article on The MIT Press Journals website. The article was Published on November 30th, 2017


Dragons thrive in gaps between and beyond spatial boundaries. Can science help explain their existence? Did humans use investigation of natural phenomena to create bits and pieces of dragon lore across cultures? The researchers used a transdisciplinary lens to reveal unique data among extant dragon origin explanations. These data include fossil evidence and descriptions of Carboniferous era plants, dragon folklore descriptions and locations, and geographic correlations between the fossils and folklore. The hypothesis is that early humans came across these fossils, constructed meaning for them contextualized by current knowledge of the natural world, and created or enhanced dragon lore narratives.


doi: 10.1162/LEON_a_01576.